Do wildlife officials feel just a little hypocritical answering media questions about the New Year's Eve blackbird "rain" when they know they kill 200 times that amount a year as "pests"?
In 2009 the US Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), part of USDA, says it poisoned 489,444 red-winged blackbirds in Texas and 461,669 in Louisiana. It also shot 4,217 blackbirds in California, 2,246 in North Dakota and 1,063 in Oregon according to its posted records.
We won't even talk about the starlings, crows, ravens, doves, geese, owls (yes owls) hawks, pigeons, ducks, larks, woodpeckers and coots our tax dollars annihilated to benefit ranchers, farmers and other private interests. Or the squirrels, rabbits, badgers, bobcats, beavers, woodchucks, coyotes, opossums, raccoons and mountain lions.
The he-men at the Wildlife Service also shot 29 great blue herons, 820 cattle egrets and 115 white-faced ibises in 2009, despite the known dangers of approaching shore birds.
It's hard to know which is worse: government agencies like APHIS, Louisiana State University and the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry helping private rice farmers and landowners with our tax dollars. Or the scorched earth baiting of their rice fields with poison "until blackbird populations are depleted," as LSU's Rice Research Station News puts it.
APHIS even uses caged red-winged blackbirds as decoys to attract wild ones says Audubon magazine and "pre-baits" an area with unpoisoned food to ensure the most takers.